With today’s WiFi capabilities, the practice of social WiFi is starting to seem much smaller on the grand scale of potential. Where the possibility existed with just one store, entire areas are beginning to pop up, uniting once scattered locations under a blanketed network. Even something as small as a shopping center is enough to render data necessary for helping the entire area flourish, not just individual stores.
Social WiFi & Hotspot Marketing
It’s no secret that the more famous social WiFi generators, such as coffee shops, offer free internet with a purpose. Though you are gifted relatively fast, free internet upon ordering your drink, what you give back far outweighs any monthly bills. After all, this “free” internet is paid for with your data. From the sites you visit to your path around the store, everything businesses can collect and analyze is information they can use to make themselves more appealing by making your experience even better.
Taking this a step further, this connection to all customers within the store means that companies can immediately connect and interact without interrupting or being too pushy. Simple things such as “thank you” text messages or immediately sent emails with coupons in them all serve to attract the customer to come back one more time, improving customer retention and conversion.
Expanding to a Social City
Sometimes storewide reach isn’t enough. Take Hinckley town center, for instance. As the second largest town in Leicestershire, it boasts an extremely popular market full of high end fashion, fine dining and department stores. According to the case study put together by Purple WiFi, this collection of shops just wasn’t enough. The “Hinckley Town Partnership hope[d] that the new free WiFi [would] enhance the online experience when out and about in the area.” Simply put, Hinckley aimed to make technology the core of the city’s shopping experience.
The goal was to connect visitors with unrestricted WiFi at all major areas in the city, combining a system that could deliver real-time updates with the collection of visitor data. For this project, they turned to the engineering prowess of Purple WiFi. Because the demands were so unique, the solution was actually specifically built for the city. With the longest distance being 1.2km, it was challenging coming up with a continuous signal that would envelope the entire area. The answer came by “mounting Ubiquiti hardware to various lamp posts.” The traffic is then collected and sent to a central, managed connection.
Embracing the City
Moving from a store-based approach to a city-based strategy comes with added benefits. First and foremost, stores in Hinckley no longer need to worry about setting up their own WiFi for customers. Instead, they can use what’s been set up by the city, making the area even more appealing to the brands that want to get in on the WiFi hotspot action without investing the time and effort it takes to determine how to make it happen on an individual basis.
Beyond this store appeal, it’s a tactic that benefits the entire area as a whole. Those in charge of the city can now interact with their locals and visitors on an unprecedented scale, sending out SMS messages regarding various sales around the area or events going on. There are even social media portals that can be accessed to vastly increase chatter on places like Facebook and Twitter. The other side of this is that the entire area can then receive immediate feedback on what the populace is thinking about their various events, helping them further tailor the area to the wants of the customer base.
In the end, though, it all comes down to how much data your WiFi hotspots can gather. As in Hinckley’s case, they decided to go with Purple WiFi because of the type of data it offered them. Instead of restrictive options that could only place the footfalls, it’s the more advanced options that really make free WiFi across an entire city worth it. Including what stores are visited, what sites are visited, social media popularity and even gender and age, this information is pivotal for the city to continually enhance its attraction to users. By playing to the preferences of those that visit, Hinckley can expect to see unprecedented growth by using citywide WiFi to not only promote the city and its stores but encouraging more than one return trip.